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Cam Brown Growing Into A Leader For Penn State Football’s Defense

Though five of last year’s eleven starters won’t be back this season, Penn State football’s defense will feature plenty of familiar faces. One of those returning starters is linebacker Cam Brown, who’s making big strides as spring practice gets underway.

Brown is quickly becoming a leader for the team, and it’s easy to see why. He’s made 33 appearances in his career, which is the most of Penn State’s three starting linebackers at spring practice. Jan Johnson and Micah Parsons, who have 20 and 13 games of experience under their belt, respectively, have lined up as the first-team linebackers alongside Brown so far this spring.

“We have a pretty good idea of who [Brown] is and where he’s at. I think the biggest difference now is his leadership,” head coach James Franklin said. “He’s taken a real command of the team and defense. He’s gotten bigger, stronger, and more physical — it’s that steady evolution you see in him.”

Brown finished fifth among Nittany Lion defenders with 63 tackles in 2018. Six and a half of those resulted in a loss of yardage. Brown and just three of his teammates posted more than 40 solo stops last year.

It may seem natural for a senior with three seasons of regular playing time to become a leader, and that’s exactly how Brown views his role.

“Honestly, I had to embrace [being a leader]. It’s my time,” he said. “I played last year — me and Garrett Taylor have the most experience on the defense right now. Young guys look up to me, and I feel like I’m in a position where I understand the program and what happens on the field.”

The linebacker said he’s also grown in a more literal sense following practice on Wednesday. He put on weight during the offseason and now weighs 230 pounds — up from the 205-pound mark he arrived in Happy Valley with. However, Brown feels like he isn’t done making gains before the season begins thanks to his extra lifting and daily intake of approximately 3,000 calories.

Talk of the linebacker’s weight quickly shifted to a discussion of his favorite foods. Chicken alfredo is one of Brown’s favorite meals because of how filling it is. Apparently Daniel Joseph does most of the cooking in the house, but he and Shaka Toney both do their fair share. It is gains season, after all.

Gaining weight has caused Brown to make some sacrifices. On some occasions, he’ll eat until he’s uncomfortable, even if that means snacking quite a bit on days when he has to make up for not eating earlier. A good chunk of his daily caloric intake comes from protein shakes, and Brown is definitely not feeling sluggish on the football field.

“I feel more athletic than ever. I feel good right now,” Brown said. “When you’re confident on the field and get to play with your speed, and when [assistant AD for performance enhancement Dwight] Galt gets you right and everything, I feel good.”

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

Mikey is a senior majoring in journalism and Onward State's Sports Editor. He grew up in Bedminster, NJ and is way too obnoxious about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is hard. If you're dying to see more hockey/golf content on your timeline, you can follow Mikey on Twitter @mikey_mandarino. Send all hate mail, death threats, and your vote for the best chicken parm in State College to [email protected]


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